Seoul: North Koreans have been told to pay respects to late leader Kim Jong-Il three times a day and mourning rituals have become a test of their loyalty to the communist dynasty, an expert said on Thursday.
   
In contrast, when Kim's father and founding president Kim Il-Sung passed away in 1994, just one trip per day to a mourning place sufficed to prove their respects, said Professor Kim Young-Soo of Seoul's Sogang University.

"It is deeply in North Koreans' consciousness that they have to express their sorrow in the bitterest degree when the top leader dies, to avoid raising suspicions about their loyalty," he said.

"They have learned by experience that the stronger they express their grief, the better," said the professor, who has interviewed scores of North Korean defectors.
   
When TV cameras were trained on them, he said, there was increasing competition about who could stage the most dramatic display of weeping and wailing.
   
"Mourning is somewhat compelled and mobilised," said Kim, adding that residents were rounded up to participate according to their jobs and places of residence.
   
The fact that North Koreans are being told to pay respects three times a day is a sign that loyalty to Jong-Il was weaker than to his father, the professor said.
   
Following the announcement on Monday of Kim Jong-Il's death, North Korean TV showed thousands of people pounding the ground and weeping.
   
State media has urged citizens to rally round his son Jong-Un as new leader -- in the country's second dynastic succession.

(Agencies)